How to Pull off Influencer Marketing in the Digital Age

Open up your favorite social media app or news site. Chances are good you’ll see a person talking about a product they’ve used.

Not just any person, and not just any product. Usually a famous, or newly famous, person with a large following.

And it may be a brand new product, or one in need of an image update. Either way, you’re watching influencer marketing in action.

Is it right for your company?

Read our guide and learn everything you need to know.

What is influencer marketing?

It’s a pretty simple concept, really.

Someone uses their influence over others to get them to buy a product or service. You might also know the term “celebrity endorsement”.

And that’s pretty much where the concept stops being simple.

Pick an influencer that doesn’t match your company’s audience? You won’t get much in return.

Maybe you picked an influencer whose reputation takes a hit?

Or worse, they commit some sort of crime?

Your brand may or may not recover from that misstep.

So how do you do influencer marketing right?

What are your goals?

Done well, influencer marketing can be very beneficial to your company.

But it should be a part of your overall marketing plan, not the entire strategy. You can’t drive a car with only a steering wheel, right?

You also shouldn’t rely on an influencer to do all of your marketing.

By the time you’re considering how to find an influencer, you should have:

  • A clear brand identity
  • A clear tone, style and feel for your communications
  • Goals, both short- and long-term
  • What fits with your brand and what doesn’t

The last part, what fits, is one of the most important.

If you don’t know that, you may be wasting valuable time and resources.

Measuring the results

For 2014, Burst Media did some calculations.

For every $1 spent in influencer marketing, the average ROI was $6.85. Food and retailers & apparel were the biggest earners, at $11.33 and $10.48 respectively.

While it would be nice to be able to say, “this action directly resulted in this sale”, it’s not always possible.

Know what your goals are for influencer marketing, whether it’s:

  • Increased social media presence
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Website traffic
  • Improved or increased customer feedback

How does it work?

Before you can pick the right influencers, you need to understand how it works.

Say your company sells garden tools and supplies for the DIY’er. You do some research and find an up-and-coming BBQ chef that you like.

While BBQs generally get used in the backyard, it’s not a gardening tool. You may pick up a small amount of interest from their audience, but likely not much.

You’d be better off choosing someone that does a gardening blog or show.

The ties that bind

The influencer’s audience needs to easily understand why your product/service is being recommended.

Too large a gap and they may not be able to make that leap.

You want them thinking about your product, not why the influencer is talking about it.

Relationships, relationships, relationships

That word is so important I said it three times.

And there are three kinds of relationships you need to understand:

  • You and your customers
  • You and your influencer
  • Your influencer and their audience

In all of these, trust is the name of the game.

Very few relationships survive without some level of trust. And in this case, there needs to be a high level of trust.

The influencer’s audience trusts their product suggestions. The influencer has to trust you.

Time is another important factor in this equation. Trust takes time to build, but can be broken in an instant.

Influencer marketing isn’t typically a short-term tactic.

Make sure you’re prepared for the investment of time you’ll need to make.

It’s not all about you

You’re looking for the best influencer for your brand. But, they’re also looking for something.

What does your company provide that will have value to them?

Each influencer may want something different, too. If you’re just starting out, it may take cold, hard cash.

But be careful of those that will do or say anything for a price.

It goes back to trust, and it’s lost quickly when there’s no authenticity. If you’ve already built some of your own influence, that may also help.

Understanding what your influencer values is key to building a good relationship.

Media: social, traditional, or both?

Your marketing budget covers multiple tactics:

  • Online ads
  • Email campaigns
  • Newsletters
  • Media

Now you’re adding influencers, so what channel is best?

Start by looking at where your audience spends their time. If your audience is heavily social media based, that’s where you want to be.

An older demographic may be spending time elsewhere.

Know where your potential customers are looking so you know where to be.

Who are the best influencers?

Earlier when I mentioned celebrity endorsements, your budget might’ve felt a lot smaller.

But not every influencer has to be a sports or TV star. Especially if you have a niche product or service, a big name actor may not be the right fit.

You’re also looking for experts, not just people with a large audience..

Are they quoted or featured on sites that are trustworthy? (Think New York Times, not National Enquirer.)

And don’t confuse quantity with quality.

You don’t need more influencers, you need good influencers.

Where to find the influencers that are the best fit?

Great, you’ve figured out what kind of influencer marketing you want to do.

You’ve looked at your goals and your budget. You have a plan to measure the return on your investment.

And, you have a plan for building and maintaining your influencer relationships.

But you have no idea where to find them.

Try keyword searches on the top social media sites. This will show you who’s talking about it, and what they’re saying.

The Content Marketing Institute also has 3 steps to finding influencers in your industry.

What else you can do and how I can help?

Influencer marketing is one piece of your plan. What about your website?

How’s your content looking? How’s the SEO?

I can help you with both.

Start here with our free SEO audit tool or contact me if you have other needs.